There are a bunch of names on the Oilers 50-man list we don’t know. Alan Quine, anyone? Seth Griffith?
At the same time, the NHL draft is complete and many quality prospects were passed over. Why?
I’m proud to be writing for The Athletic, and pleased to be part of a great team with Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Jonathan Willis. Here is our recent work.
- New Lowetide: Finding Connor McDavid’s optimal linemates among 2020-21 Oilers
- New Jonathan Willis: A cautious free agent period boosts an Oilers team still on the upswing
- New Lowetide: Oilers prospects poised to benefit after offseason news.
- New Lowetide: Oilers bring back Mike Smith for another year.
- New Lowetide: Oilers sign Tyson Barrie to a team-friendly deal.
- New Lowetide: Oilers sign Kyle Turris, Tyler Ennis in early hours of free agency.
- Lowetide: Ken Holland will need to be creative in free agency
- Lowetide: Jesse Puljujarvi signing overshadows a strong day for Oilers at draft
- Lowetide: Oilers draft Dylan Holloway on Day 1, with trades possible Wednesday
- Lisa Dillman: Dylan Holloway could be a ‘difference-maker’ for the Oilers
- Eric Duhatschek: Connor McDavid’s positive COVID-19 test stirs debate about the next NHL season
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers could benefit both now and in the future by adding a right-shot defender
- Lowetide: Ken Holland’s work week: Get good players, keep good players
- Lowetide: Oilers’ defence prospects are pushing, and changes are coming
- Lowetide: Potential trades and partners for the Oilers’ offseason
- Lowetide: Dealing a defenceman? Taking stock of Oilers’ blueline assets
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Q&A: Oilers GM Ken Holland on improving internally, the flat cap and goaltending
- Lowetide: Oilers Top 20 Prospects, Summer 2020
2020 DRAFT PROSPECTS WHO WEREN’T CHOSEN
I usually have five or so names from my top 100 in each draft who are not chosen. This year is mostly typical, although my top 60 were drafted and that’s unusual.
As an example, I had goalie Veini Vehvilainen No. 37 in 2016’s draft, he passed through. Vehvilainen would get drafted in 2018. Here is this year’s list of players in my top-100 who were not drafted:
- 63 LW Owen Pederson, Winnipeg (WHL). Scored 28 goals in 61 games.
- 81 LW Kyle Crnkovic, Saskatoon (WHL). 5.07 winger, 64 pts in 63 games.
- 83 RW Wiljami Myllylä, HIFK (Jr. Liiga). Speed demon, gaudy scoring.
- 84 LC Theo Rochette, Quebec (QMJHL). Undersized two-way center.
- 87 G Sam Hlavaj, Sherbrooke (QMJHL). .915 save percentage.
TYLER TULLIO COMPARABLES
Tullio is a prospect we’re going to spend some time on. He plays in the OHL, posted 66 points in 62 games (1.06 points-per-game). Names over the last five years who have been in his range at 17 (Tullio is an April 2002) include Connor McMichael, Philip Tomasino, Nick Robertson, Robert Thomas, Taylor Raddysh, Michael McLeod. Not saying he’ll land there, but those are his comparables.
50-MAN LIST (45)
G Mikko Koskinen. His .924 five on five save percentage places him as the clear No. 1 goaltender. He should be able to solidify his starting status with 60+ percent of the starts.
G Mike Smith. Veteran is back and one year older. His five on five save percentage in 2019-20 was .900, No. 50 of 52 goalies who played 1,000 or more minutes during the regular season.
G Anton Forsberg. He has NHL experience and I’d give him a 75 percent chance of playing in at least one NHL game next season.
G Stuart Skinner. Oilers like him but he has to perform well in Bakersfield next time the Condors play hockey. He had a strong run in November (six games, 4-2-0, .921 save percentage, 2.35 goals-against average) but was not consistent.
G Dylan Wells. He is in an even more difficult spot than Skinner, who at least has the net for some of the time in Bakersfield. Wells needs a break of some sort during the final year of his entry deal.
G Olivier Rodrigue. He has already posted a quality start in Austria and is not facing a strong depth chart as he begins his pro career. Russian Ilya Konovalov seems to be the strongest competition at this time.
LD Darnell Nurse. He played 23:27 last season and may hit 25 minutes a night in 2020-21. Rugged defender, puck transporter, enforcer and top-4 defenseman.
LD Caleb Jones. It wasn’t planned this way, but the Oilers need Jones to duplicate Ethan Bear’s rookie season with something similar on the second pairing. Wonderful skater, he can make outstanding passes and is strong. I think he’ll need 35 games to get comfortable.
LD Kris Russell. The Klefbom injury combined with the flat cap looks to have ensured Russell hanging around for the final season of his contract. I think he’ll pair with newcomer Tyson Barrie and get plenty of PK time.
LD William Lagesson. Barring any additions, the Klefbom injury would seem to guarantee Lagesson’s presence on the Oilers roster. He could fill most of Russell’s role within a year, although he obviously won’t bring much experience.
LD Oscar Klefbom. He is injured and it looks like he could be gone for the entire season.
LD Philip Broberg. He is 1-3-4 after seven games and playing almost 21 minutes a night in the SHL. All of the smart math people I have talked to over the last several years tell me that the top-flight defenseman make themselves known very early, as in by 20. This young man turns 20 next June. He might fly up this depth chart in the last 12 months.
LD Dmitri Samorukov. Another defenseman with good arrows, this time in the KHL where he’s 2-4-6 in 14 games (17:29 per night). He is having a breakout season in Russia (+13, I don’t know his even strength on ice goal differential).
LD Theodor Lennstrom. Has played just four SHL games, averaging 14:52 per night. I think he’s going to get r-u-n-o-v-e-r-d by all these lefty blue prospects.
LD Markus Niemelainen. He has played four Liiga games and has 31 pims, so Niemelainen is seeing lots of Finland! He’s a shutdown blue, I’d like to see him in Bakersfield, test that mobility.
RD Adam Larsson. Veteran is effective when healthy and a grave concern when his back goes sideways. In the final year of his contract and vulnerable as an Oilers player.
RD Ethan Bear. One of the best rookie seasons by an Oilers defenseman in the last decade, and he’ll be a bargain contract again next year. Sublime passer and that experience a year ago should be useful in the coming season.
RD Tyson Barrie. It’s going to take some time for the idea of having Barrie on the roster, but he’ll make a great deal of difference on outlets and on the power play. Fantastic addition.
RD Evan Bouchard. He’s blocked from getting an opening night job, but injuries happen and some effective play in the minors should mean he gets the recall. Not sure when he’ll get to show off his PP prowess.
RD Filip Berglund. He has played six games this year (0-1-1) and is averaging 21:54 per game. I’d love to see him in AHL games.
LC Connor McDavid. Not much information after the Covid-19 news but he should be ready for training camp. I have a feeling he’s going to make teams pay in 2020-21. Amazing five years.
LC Leon Draisaitl. Hart Trophy winner. Superhero. Honestly I’m not sure what he can do for an encore but cannot wait to find out.
RC Kyle Turris. I didn’t think the Oilers would hire an offensive center for third-line duties but we are here. As long as he can outscore opponents five on five I’m on board.
LC Jujhar Khaira. He’s a fine penalty killer and Tippett liked him late at center. I don’t think Khaira owns the No. 4 C job but he has a good chance to play 50 games there.
RC Gaetan Haas. I believe he has a chance to pass Khaira on the depth chart, and Haas might take playing time away from some of the wingers too. His underyling numbers were among the most interesting of any Oilers bottom six forward a year ago.
RC Cooper Marody. It’s an important year for him, and I’m not sure if he lands at center or on the wing. He has a great deal of skill for the AHL, and his NHL games were encouraging. It’s just been so long since we saw him good and healthy.
LC Alan Quine. He’s an interesting player. Definitely in that AHL-NHL shuttle in terms of quality, he’s noticeable in a good way . Aggressive, 1.21 points per 60 at five on five for his career.
LC Ryan McLeod. I think the Oilers are less than a year from putting him in the NHL lineup every night. Fast train with two-way ability, the only question is offense. Oilers would be thrilled if he could post 1.60/60 at five on five and I think he might be the No. 3 center soon and for a long time unless Dylan Holloway grabs the job from him down the line.
RC Adam Cracknell. He can play center or wing, and is a big, rugged forward. It’s my guess he is a candidate for recall, although the role he plays is mostly found on Edmonton’s wings (Kassian, Chiasson).
LW Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. He has scored 20+ goals three seasons in a row, and Nuge’s shooting percentages in those years has been part of the spike. In his first six years in the league, RNH scored 95 goals on 887 shots (10.7 percent). In the past three seasons, he is shooting 13.0 percent (74 goals on 531 shots). He is a more complete player now than he’s ever been.
LW James Neal scored 19 goals, 12 on the power play and many early in the season when the Oilers got off to that great start. He is not a plus five on five scorer and eventually will be forced down the depth chart, but Edmonton doesn’t have anyone who will push him on the roster at this time.
LW Tyler Ennis. A welcome return after a solid audition, Ennis scored 3-3-6 in 12 games, including playoffs. That’s about 15 goals, and puts him middle six for the Oilers on the left side. He has a chance to win the job on McDavid’s wing and looked healthy and fast during his time with Edmonton. One of the most important spots on the roster (wrote about it at The Athletic), I don’t see him as the long-term solution for 97’s left wing but he could have a helluva year there.
LW Joakim Nygard. He’s a speedster and Holland-Tippett want more pace, so I see Nygard as a possible middle-six option at times. His work with McDavid, in a very small sample, was impressive.
LW Tyler Benson. Oilers don’t trumpet his arrival and that’s a tell. Edmonton’s left-wing depth chart is currently the weakest on the roster, and Benson is NHL-ready. I think the management of the team view him as a bottom six option. There is, however, hope. If Holland doesn’t add here, Benson has something close to a clear path to the NHL. He has talent, but needs to arrive in camp like Kyle Brodziak did in 2007 or Ethan Bear did one year ago.
LW Joe Gambardella. I’m not sure an Oilers management person has mentioned his name in a year, and that’s a tell. Forechecking is his forte, so there should be some time for him, and as is the case with Benson, the depth chart is welcoming at this time.
LW Ostap Safin. He was healthy in 2019-20 and that’s a victory. The numbers from the ECHL were just okay, but full health was the major concern and we’ll see what he brings in Bakersfield.
RW Zack Kassian. Edmonton badly needs first half Kassian (44, 13-15-28) and cannot abide second half Kassian (15, 2-4-6, suspension, inconsistent play). I’m a fan of this player, and believe intimidation is effective, but he has to play smarter if he’s going to be part of the future.
RW Kailer Yamamoto. In 53 NHL games over his career, he is 12-19-31. That works out to around 50 points in 82 games, and that my friends is a valuable player. One of the extreme positives for Edmonton, who have had a helluva time graduating good forwards from Bakersfield.
RW Jesse Puljujarvi. The entire story is so damn encouraging. After his first experience with the team, JP sounded convincing when saying he would never return. Well, he’s signed for two seasons and I do believe Holland got him a center (Turris). If they can find the soft underbelly of the opposition and left winger (Ennis, I believe), we could see 10-15 goals from this young man. One of the truly compelling stories about the season to come.
RW Alex Chiasson. He was the most effective bottom-six forward in possession and had a solid year on the PP. He is a candidate to move over to left wing and one of the few reliable players on the wing. Trade rumours have clouded his offseason but he’s still here.
RW Josh Archibald. A utility player at a position that has no room at the Inn, Archibald is also a player we could see moving to left wing due to overcrowding. His goal differential at five on five a year ago was disconcerting, it might land him on the fourth line should it continue.
RW Patrick Russell. He signed a contract that looked like he won the No. 14F job with the Oilers, but right now it doesn’t look that way. The coach trusts him, so he still has a chance.
RW Seth Griffith. I know this player pretty well, former Bruins draft pick from 2012. He scored 20 in the AHL as a rookie and did it again last season, has posted strong scoring seasons in the minors all down the line. In 79 NHL games, he is 8-11-19. Should be considered a long shot for recall.
RW Raphael Lavoie. The most promising goal scorer among the players who have turned pro, he is 2-1-3 in four Allsvenskan games so far this season. He is the one Oilers prospects who is a forward and 20+ who I believe will have an NHL career.
RW Kirill Maksimov. Not much shaking so far in the KHL, no points in three games. Among the forwards slated for Bakersfield, this coming season was perhaps more important to Maksimov than any other young player.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A rocking show today gets underway at 10 this morning, TSN1260. Bruce McCurdy from the Cult of Hockey at the Edmonton Journal will talk draft and free agency, and defend keeping the Draisaitl line intact. Joe Osborne from OddsShark will talk NFL, NBA and MLB, and a little about what we’ll be watching when baseball goes away. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!